Motivation is generally not something that can be transferred from one person to another. Instructors must become skillful at recognizing problems with motivation and at encouraging students to continue to do their best.
Positive feedback encourages students. Practice positive feedback frequently by:
- Praising incremental successes during training.
- Relating daily accomplishments to lesson objectives.
- Commenting favorably on student progress and level ability.
For example, as the student progresses through training, remark on the milestones. When a student first performs a task alone, congratulate him or her on having learned it.
When that same skill reaches an intermediate level, point out that the student’s performance is almost consistent with the requirements of the PTS. When performance is equal to the PTS requirements, comment favorably on the skill acquisition. When student performance exceeds PTS requirements, point out what a benefit this will be when the student must perform under pressure during a practical test or on the job.
Presenting New Challenges
With each declaration of success, be sure to present students with the next challenge. For example, when a student begins to perform a skill consistently to PTS requirements, challenge him or her to continue to improve it so the skill can be performed under pressure or when distracted. Instructors can also present new challenges by presenting the student with new problems or situations.
Drops in Motivation
Instructors must be prepared to deal with a number of circumstances in which motivation levels drop. It is natural for motivation to wane somewhat after the initial excitement of the student’s first days of training, or between major training events such as solo, evaluations, or practical tests. Drops in motivation appear in several different ways. Students may come to lessons unprepared or give the general sense that aviation training is no longer a priority. During these times, it is often helpful to remind students of their own stated goals for seeking aviation training.
Learning plateaus are a common source of frustration, discouragement, and decreased student motivation. A first line of defense against this situation is to explain that learning seldom proceeds at a constant pace—no student climbs the ladder of success by exactly one rung per day. Students should be encouraged to continue to work hard and be reassured that results will follow.
Summary of Instructor Actions
To ensure that students continue to work hard, the instructor should:
- Ask new students about their aviation training goals.
- Reward incremental successes in learning.
- Present new challenges.
- Occasionally remind students about their own stated goals for aviation training.
- Assure students that learning plateaus are normal and that improvement will resume with continued effort.